Do poll workers in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina have any reason to write on ballots and will they be disqualified if they do so? No, that's not true: Multiple South Carolina election officials, including those in Horry County, the county home to Myrtle Beach, said otherwise.
The claim appeared in a since-removed Facebook post (archived here) where it was published on October 7, 2020. It read:
****Myrtle Beach Pay Attention*** Just finished Poll Manager training! I passed all the classes. I want you all to know something...if you are checking in at the polls and they happen to write anything on your ballot...a letter, a checkmark, a star, any writing of any kind...please request a new ballot. Your ballot will not be counted if it is written on. Please be on the lookout for this type of behavior. I know someone in Myrtle Beach who asked me about this during the primaries and I did not understand what it might have meant. Now I know. It disqualifies your ballot. BE ON GUARD!!!
This is what the post looked like on Facebook at the time of writing:
(Source: Facebook screenshot taken on Thu Oct 8 14:54:15 2020 UTC)
If a poll worker were to write on a ballot for some reason, it would not be disqualified. "There's no truth to it at all. A poll manager is not going to write anything on your ballot and if they did it's not going to result in your ballot not being counted," said Chris Whitmire, the director of public information for the South Carolina state election commission. "That is absolutely not true," added Sandy Martin, the elections director for Horry County Government.
Starting the Facebook post addressing Myrtle Beach leads people to wrongly believe the Facebook user got that information from a poll manager class in Horry County. But poll manager training has not started in Horry County.
"Where did you train? I am the Training Coordinator for Horry County Elections and we have not even started training. Which county do you work for? This is not correct information," the training coordinator for Horry County registration & elections, Angela Westmoreland, commented on the Facebook post. Lead Stories independently verified that Westmoreland is the training coordinator, but she did not respond to request for comment. "I must stop this. It is so damaging and untrue," she commented, on Facebook, about 45 minutes later.
Why this Facebook post begins with "Myrtle Beach Pay Attention" remains unclear, but this Facebook user was not the only one to post it and was likely not the first either. The Facebook user did not respond to request for comment.
Horry County Elections and the South Carolina State Election Commission both reported the post to a representative at Facebook and Facebook took it down following their requests, according to Whitmire. Other versions of it still exist on Facebook.
In previous South Carolina elections, poll managers would have to handle the ballot much more than they do in this upcoming general election. In Horry County, poll managers for the recent primary elections had to write the ballot style on the top of the ballot card. In the upcoming general election, however, the style will be printed onto the ballot so the poll workers will not have to write anything on the ballots. "There's no reason for a poll worker to write on a ballot," said Martin. The pre-labeled ballot styles is a statewide initiative, so there's no reason for poll workers outside of Horry County to write on the ballots either. "We do have a new e-pollbook system that eliminates the need for a poll worker to write the ballot style," said Whitmire. "This new system eliminates this whole human involved process and automates it," he continued.
Election officials in the nearby Williamsburg County also said there is no truth to the Facebook post. "I've never told anybody that," said Edith Redden, the director of voter registration and elections for Williamsburg County who also frequently teaches poll worker classes. "I'm very upset. Why would we teach someone that?" she continued.
The ballots go through a scanner to be counted which means that the poll managers have little to no interaction with the ballots. Poll managers in South Carolina have no apparent reason to write on a ballot and if they do, that ballot will not be disqualified.
"I just hope people would just come out and vote and stop listening to all this hype going on," said Redden. "You hear all of this on Facebook and it just makes us stressed, really."